New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate eased to 8.6% in March.

This was down from 8.8% in February and a reduction from the jobless rate of 9.8% in March 2015. 

It also compares with a current euro zone unemployment rate of 10.3%.

The CSO said the seasonally adjusted number of persons unemployed last month stood at 187,700, down 2,900 when compared to the February figure. It was also a decrease of 23,400 when compared to the same time last year. 

Today's figures also reveal that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.2% for males, down from 11.2% in March of last year.

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for females in March 2016 was 6.7%, down from 8.1% in March 2015.

The CSO figures show that the seasonally adjusted youth unemployment rate stood 19% in March, down from 20% in February 2016.

Commenting on today's figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid noted that employment rose in 12 of the 14 economic sectors on an annual basis and fell in the other two in the final quarter of 2015. 

Mr McQuaid said the greatest rate of increase was seen in the construction sector, with employment in the sector up by 8.5%. "The pick-up in this sector is particularly encouraging given that it was the one that suffered the worst in the downturn," he stated. 

The economist said the country had an average jobless rate of 9.4% in 2015, down from 11.3% in 2014. 

"With the economy continuing to grow strongly, an average jobless rate of 8.3% is now envisaged for 2016, with another net increase in employment of close on 50,000," he added.